Miguel Cabrera is one of baseball's best

Updated: September 5, 2011, 4:09 PM ET
By Buster Olney

DETROIT -- Ozzie Guillen can remember the first time he saw Miguel Cabrera, as a skinny teenager, already so good at a young age that he was asked to play in a celebrity softball game in his native Venezuela. Cabrera was a shortstop in a country with a tradition of great shortstops, and so as Guillen remembers it, he let Cabrera play shortstop, Guillen played center field and Omar Vizquel played left.

It wasn't long after that Cabrera signed with the Florida Marlins, the team for which Guillen worked, and there was some disagreement in a staff meeting about the future of another shortstop, Alex Gonzalez. Some lobbied for the idea of pushing aside Gonzalez and installing Cabrera, and Guillen was astonished by what he heard.

"Cabrera's not going to be a shortstop," he insisted, having seen just how tall his fellow Venezuelan was. And after others in the room saw Cabrera, they understood what Guillen was talking about: Cabrera was going to turn into a very big man.

Cabrera was summoned to the big leagues in 2003, and Guillen was asked if he thought Cabrera could handle an immediate conversion to the outfield, and Guillen indicated yes, Cabrera would be comfortable with whatever was asked of him.